Fire Protection In Schaghticoke.
(From an Occasional Correspondent.)
Schaghticoke, N. Y., occupies a unique position in firemanic matters. Schaghticoke people have seldom stopped long enough in their race for wealth to give the necessary attention to fire protection, and none exists. Nestling in a quiet vale on the banks of the Hoosick river, the water dashing and splashing over natural falls of considerable height ard great beauty, the neighboring hilltops resounding the echoes of busy machinery, Schaghticoke with its 1500 bustling inhabitants stands in an attitude inviting conflagration, absolutely without an organized department. One would imagine that the enterprise and growth of the surrounding cities and towns would have the effect of stirring the people up to realize the dangerous and singular situation, but not so. It must not be inferred from this that the people here are void of enterprise or push. Ear from it, but still no good reason exists why they are so far behind the times as to neglect to insure the safety of their buildings against fire. True, the village is not without means to fight fire, but it is not through any organized effort that this desirable thing exists. The Cable flax mill is well protected against fire; besides having automatic sprinklers and several hundred feet of serviceable hose it has powerful force pumps and maintains at its own expense a hydrant in front of its principal building on the main street which is used in case of fire. The woolen mill also has good hose and pumps which are used in case of fire. Some years ago the village board was requested to purchase a few hundred feet of hose that might he attached to that owned by the Cable mill. This the board refused to do ; then again the hoard was requested to purchase a few feet of hose to connect the hose owned by the Cable mill to (hat owned by the woolen mill, which unfortunately are of different sizes. The taxpayers decided not to expend the amount necessary for this purpose.
Should a fire break out while the wells were not working Schaghticoke would have to depend upon the bucket brigade. This bucket brigade would be a ludicrous institution were it not that it is a time-honored service, hut in this decade surely out of place. Two years ago, when Druggist John W. Richards was president of the village, he appointed, as per the charter, Edward Pinkbam “chief of the fire department,” to serve without salary. Many years ago a fire department was formed and thirty men elected firemen. After a few years’ service the “ department ” was forgotten, and the only reminder that now exists is the fact that the remaining fifteen “ firemen,” grown now to old men, exempt from further service, are no longer obliged to pay the annual poll tax. The bucket system is not an organized one, there being no regularly established places where buckets are kept, and only three inadequate village wells where water can be obtained. In case of fire the first man on the ground demands a bucket from the nearest house and sets to work to extinguish the flames.
During twenty years it is said that only a single instance exists of a building being saved from total destruction by fire, and that stood within the shadow of the woolen mill. It is twelve years now since Schaghticoke was visited by the disastrous conflagration that laid low the business portion of the town. The loss of $40,000 stirred the people up to request the board of trustees to take action toward forming a department. A committee was appointed, but it has never made a report. One year ago Schaghticoke reveled in a Fourth of July celebration, and our facetious townsman, G. II. Stevenson. was delegated to get out posters announcing the attractions. Among other notices was one inviting the public to inspect the fire fighting apparatus owned by the village which was stored in a shed owned by Sam Thompson. This apparatus consisted of several broken rusty pike hooks and two broken and decayed ladders. Years ago when the village first purchased their implements they were stored under lock and key in the old covered bridge. When a fire broke out the man who carried the key was generally missing. Two years ago when John W. Richards was president of the village an attempt was made to arouse sufficient interest among taxpayers to authorize the village board to purchase a chemical fire engine. Through the efforts of President Richards a New York company exhibited in this section the workings of their engines. President Richards and Questus Baldwin and Stewart made a personal canvass among the taxpayers, and although they secured the co-operation of several of the larger taxpayers the movement never culminated in anything more than enthusiasm. Fortunately fires are infrequent, but fire insurance rates are high.